Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 9 Hansard (21 August) . . Page.. 2695 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
grieving husband of a dying woman who has judgment entered against the ACT government saying, 'Will you help me get an answer from the ACT government about what they propose to do?' " I wrote and asked you.
You wrote back and verballed me. I wrote back that on the basis of advice from the ACT Government Solicitor there was no basis on which I as Leader of the Opposition should intervene or be involved in this matter. This was not a caretaker issue.
In fact, the matter was prescribed by the Crown Proceedings Act. Section 13 of the Crown Proceedings Act provided that you, as the Chief Minister, were the decision-maker. It was a statutory requirement that you make the decision. You could not delegate that responsibility to the Leader of the Opposition.
The chief solicitor of the ACT, the ACT Government Solicitor, had advised me at a meeting on the Friday night that the caretaker conventions did not apply. I therefore wrote back to you and said precisely that-that the chief solicitor had advised me about his views on the merits of the case.
It was not for me. I did not have the file. I did not have the papers. I did not have the judgment. I had an oral briefing. Why would I offer an opinion or a view on the merits of an appeal? It was not my business, and I said so. I said:
I offer no comment on the merits of that approach.
That was a matter for you. The election had not been held. It was not a caretaker convention issue. The question of whether I should commit the incoming government, I was told by the most senior lawyer in your employ, did not apply. I then asked you to give me your decision in the matter. I concluded my letter:
I would appreciate advice of your decision in this matter.
In other words, I was saying, "Please tell me what you are going to do." At no stage did I, in a letter to you, offer an opinion as alleged by you. You said here, "Jon Stanhope wrote to me as Chief Minister saying, 'You should make an immediate payment and you should not appeal against the decision.' " Where in writing, in those two letters, did I say the government should not appeal against the decision? You said, "Jon Stanhope wrote to me and said that the government should not appeal against the decision." I cannot quite see that.
Mr Humphries: Pay it but do not appeal it.
MR STANHOPE: You are hanged on this. You should have just had the guts to apologise. Just say, "I stuffed up. I am sorry."
Mr Humphries: That is what Mr Brown was saying today, as a matter of fact. I stand by everything I said.
MR STANHOPE: I stand by everything I said, and I will have more to say about it.